How Long Does a Background Check Take?

Requesting a screening service on your own behalf isn’t only about finding embarrassing moments in your past, but revealing errors that could negatively affect your reputation

In today’s job market, the majority of employers are prudent and screen potential new hires carefully for several details. From ensuring there is no concerning criminal past to verifying that an applicant has the education or skills necessary for the job, pre-employment background checks are a useful tool in this process. One of the biggest problems with this process is the amount of time it may take to complete this step. For future employees who need to get to work right away, delays in turnaround time can be frustrating and nerve-wracking.

You may be wondering,” How long does a background check take to complete?” And the answer depends on the method your employer uses and the type of report requested. Read on to learn more about the many factors that can hold up screening results and how you can get this information to your new boss faster.

Average Timeframe to Complete a Background Check


The majority of background checks take anywhere from a few days to a week or more to complete, while federal screenings for agencies like the FBI could take a month. Some online instant background check services on the web claim to provide a thorough screening in under a minute. These fly by night companies typically use unreliable sources and incomplete databases, which leads to inaccurate information. The organization you work for must use accurate screening services. This ensures any hiring decision they make about your application is fully informed.

Delays Determine How Long a Background Check Takes


Most delays are because of the employer’s background check process. Maybe they didn’t double-check to ensure your information was complete or forgot to have you sign an authorization form. These types of errors can cause frustrating delays and inaccurate information being used when making a hiring decision about your application.

Reliable Background Checks are Not Instantaneous


Most pre-employment background checks usually take a few days to turn around. An employer that uses a reputable screening service may need them to contact educational institutions or reach out to your previous employers. Even if this is your first job out of high school, you can expect to wait a week or more to receive a hiring decision. This should be reassuring to you about company integrity since they care so much about who they add to their team. Many of the government databases they might need to access, like a driver’s license bureau, can take at least 48 hours to return your motor vehicle report.

Before asking,” How long does a background check take? ”, consider the below job screenings your employer may rely on to determine if you are a good fit for the job.

Social Security Trace

This part of a comprehensive background check is typically the most relied upon to source further information about you for the employer. While social security traces can be nearly instantaneous, it is just the starting point for the investigation. They will use the residential history and any other names you have used to conduct additional checks.

National Criminal Record Database Search

Depending on the county or state agency that conducts this request, the turnaround time can be instant or take weeks. This is because some courts have fully automated their database records where others are still using clerk-based searches.

Local Criminal Record Searches

Some employers use a name-based search in local criminal record databases where you have lived in worked only. Searching for felony and misdemeanor charges in this manner is usually conducted by a researcher. They will look for name matches and verify if the information pertains to you or not and whether you accurately reported this information. This could take anywhere from 24 – 48 hours or more.

Motor Vehicle Record

States all maintain driving records of registered drivers in their states. Details provided by searching these databases include:

  • License validity
  • Type of licenses you hold
  • Suspensions/Revocations of your license
  • Accidents
  • Moving violations
  • Traffic crime convictions

While some states can turn around this information instantly, there are some jurisdictions, like Wyoming or Hawaii, that can take up to three days

Verification of Employment

In today’s digital age, it has become more difficult to sort fact from fiction. Employers have become aware of this problem and now rely on background check companies like Pre-employ to verify your work history with an in-depth verification process. These reports can take upwards of 48 hours to complete, but this could take longer if your previous employer is difficult to contact.

Credit Checks

You may wonder why a credit check is a necessary part of a pre-employment background check. Simply put, it prevents instances of theft, poor financial decision-making, and demonstrates your trustworthiness with company accounts. Most companies who provide these reports are the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) certified as required by law and pull your information from the three main credit bureaus:

  • Equifax
  • Transunion
  • Experian

Take Control of Your Background Check with My Background Check Services

The best way to ensure the quickest turnaround time when it comes to running a background check is to provide accurate information your employer may need. One sure way to ensure that your details are correct, up-to-date, and easily accessible to your employer is to conduct a self background check through My Background Check

My Background Check helps job applicants like you around the globe gain control over their pre-employment screening experience. We make it possible to conduct a self background check in just a few easy steps and then review your results online or print a copy to review from the privacy of your own home.

Your personal background check is required for literally everything in your life these days, from employers to rentals. Take control of yours.

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